Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce Introjection, a series of new sculptures by Gehard Demetz, and his third solo exhibition with the gallery.
The exhibition’s title is taken from the psychoanalytic term for when a person unconsciously takes on behaviors or attributes of other people or of the surrounding world. Demetz’s precisely handcrafted figures of children stand confidently on plinths—elevated above their natural stature, they confront adults at eye level with an introspective gaze. Rather than being carved from a single large block of wood, the sculptures are assembled from small modular units–mimicking building blocks–with gaps in their structures suggesting both physical loss and a kind of spiritual lack within the soul. This new body of work unites the solemn figures with objects culled from everyday life or religious practice to highlight the psychological undercurrent between an individual and their belongings, and how the external can become internalized as part of the self.
In the titular work (Introjection, 2017) a young boy wears a ghërlanda spiza, a dome-shaped crown worn by girls as part of the traditional Ladin folk costume in the artist’s native region of the Dolomites. The ritual headgear has been re-appropriated and wrapped around the boy’s mouth like a muzzle. His arms hang at his sides while another set hover ghost-like, folded across his chest. The effect is haunting and defiant despite the figure’s restraints.
The association between subject and object goes still further in Senza Titulo (2016), in which a boy is carved from an icon of Christ, fusing their features together. The boundary between the two blurs, as if one is in the process of transforming into the other. The title translates to “untitled” but can also mean “without qualification,” conjuring an unbridled devotion that literally and figuratively consumes. Similarly, Miraculous Breath (2016) merges a girl with a statue of the Virgin Mary, the child’s eyes closed in a state of deep meditation. Although rendered as still figures, the sculptures embody a potent moment of transition, exuding a dynamism all their own.